The Old Women's Project


HOW TO KNOW IF YOU'RE BEING AGEIST (offensive to old women)

A HANDY GUIDE FROM THE OLD WOMEN'S PROJECT LANGUAGE POLICE
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WHY NOT "CUTE"?

"Cute" is what younger people call an old woman when she does or says something
that surprises them because it is just what a normal person would do or say.

Example: if she engages in, or even refers to sexual activity.

 

WHY NOT "FEISTY"?

"Feisty" is an automatic putdown — its origin is "excitable, like a mongrel dog" — that is frequently used in newspapers to describe an old woman who is in any way
outspoken, determined, or who engages in political protest.

Example: "Mary Jones, a feisty 86-year-old, had a different opinion."

 

WHY NOT "SWEET"?

When an old woman is not "feisty," she is rewarded by being told she is "sweet."

 

WHY NOT "SPRY"?

As you see more of us in gyms, this word is used less often since it expresses surprise that a woman in her 60s or 80s should be even a little active.

 

WHY NOT "LITTLE"? WHY NOT "LADY"?

Some of us are short and some of us are tall. We are still women, not "little old ladies."

 

WE ARE NOT YOUR GRANDMOTHER

"You remind me of my grandmother." Why don't we ever remind younger people of their sister, cousin, best friend back in Boston? We are not defined by our ages, but by our interests and our personalities.

 

ALL OF THESE WORDS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE COMPLIMENTS. ALL OF THESE WORDS ARE SEGREGATING, PATRONIZING, INSULTING.

 

RULE OF THUMB: If there's something you wouldn't say to a 35-year-old woman,
don't say it about a 75-year-old woman.

The Old Women's Project
San Diego, California

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